Thursday, February 09, 2017
Musing about linoleic acid
TLDR: I have long wanted to know how you could have differential insulin resistance between adipocytes and the rest of the body. Linoleic acid appears to be the answer
This is a set of thoughts, jotted down without references, that have been of interest to me over the last six months while I have neglected poor old Hyperlipid.
Linoleic acid produces excessive whole body insulin sensitivity.
Adipocytes distend under this effect.
Distended adipocytes release unregulated FFAs.
FFAs cause insulin resistance which eventually overcomes the excess systemic insulin sensitivity.
Here we go.
I have nothing against the role of both sucrose and refined starch in the pathogenesis of both obesity and insulin resistance. Anyone who has read Weston Price or Vilhjalmur Stefansson will be only too aware that the substances most easily transported over long distances to affect unacculturated peoples were sugar and flour. No one was carting margarine or corn oil to the Arctic in the early part of the last century. Both fructose and alcohol, both of which deliver largely uncontrolled calories in to cells, can clearly generate aspects of metabolic syndrome. However I am interested in linoleic acid and free fatty acid release from adipocytes at the moment, so I'll leave the case against sugar for the time being. So, linoleic acid:
One of the core ideas which came out of the Protons thread was that palmitic acid is a generator of physiological insulin resistance. The complementary fatty acid is palmitoleate and this generates less insulin resistance for when insulin action is desirable.
The function of physiological insulin resistance is to limit ingress of calories in to a cell when there is a surfeit of calories available. Or to limit the ingress of glucose when glucose is in short supply and it's best not to waste it on non-glucose dependent tissues.
In to this well balanced system comes linoleic acid as a bulk nutrient. The oxidation of linoleic acid, by the Protons hypothesis, produces even less insulin resistance than palmitoleate and so undermines the ability of a given cell to refuse caloric ingress in excess of its needs. Failure to develop insulin resistance means that insulin continues to act.
Continued action of insulin in a calorie replete cell results in diversion of excess calories to intracellular triglycerides (+/- glycogen). This is very reasonable in adipocytes, at the cost of obesity, but less acceptable in tissues such as muscle, liver and pancreas.
The underlying pathology is continued inappropriate insulin sensitivity.
But obesity is a condition more normally associated with insulin resistance.
From the Protons point of view the question is: How can linoleic acid acid, which results in pathological insulin sensitivity whole body, eventually result in insulin resistance, also whole body?
Insulin activates lipoprotein lipase and inhibits hormone sensitive lipase. Combined, these effects facilitate fat storage in adipocytes. But there is another lipase which controls both basal and stimulated lipolysis known as Adipocyte Triglyceride Lipase (ATGL). One, amongst the several, factors which control ATGL is perilipin A, a protein which surrounds the lipid droplet in adipocytes. It is probably an interaction between ATGL and perilipin A which determines the increase in basal lipolysis as adipocyte lipid droplet size increases.
So there is a balance. Linoleic acid is allowing increased insulin action and so causing fat accumulation with a suppression of both FFA release and adipocyte lipid turnover. ATGL is looking to limit adipocyte distension by allowing lipolysis, so raising FFAs, outside of the control of insulin. But will only act on basal lipolysis in response to progressive lipid droplet expansion.
For as long as the pathological sensitivity to insulin exceeds the FFA release driven by ATGL we can have worsening obesity but metabolic syndrome is delayed.
Once ATGL mediated lipolysis raises systemic FFA levels enough, despite insulin continuing to act on adipocytes, we can then have systemic insulin resistance with insulin sensitive adipocytes. Insulin resistance when combined with a carbohydrate based diet requires elevated insulin levels which will continue to act on the insulin sensitive adipocytes. Which will increase ATGL driven lipolysis...
This is metabolic syndrome.
Once the elevated glucose from insulin resistance kills off enough beta cells then insulin levels drop, glucose levels rise, HSL is disinhibited so FFAs rise. You might even get ketoacidosis. This is type 2 diabetes. ATGL might even take a break.
The first approach to correcting it is carbohydrate restriction, so dropping hyperinsulinaemia and minimising the vicious cycle. Doing something about the kilos of linoleic acid stored in an obese person's adipocytes is an altogether longer term project.